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Was Tyrod Taylor the right QB2 decision for NY Jets?

Tyrod Taylor, NY Jets, QB2, Backup
Tyrod Taylor, New York Jets, Getty Images

Given the New York Jets’ quarterback room, was Tyrod Taylor the right choice as the team’s QB2?

In the NFL, most backup quarterbacks are veteran players capable of spot-starting when needed. However, considering the New York Jets’ quarterback situation (a 40-year-old Aaron Rodgers with injury and retirement concerns), should Gang Green have targeted a younger backup rather than Tyrod Taylor?

To many, the Jets are in a win-now situation. They have a 40-year-old quarterback, an elite defense, and suitable playmakers on offense. In some aspects, it makes sense to have a player like Taylor take over in the event that Rodgers misses time. Yet Taylor’s own injury history makes him an interesting choice.

In 2020, Taylor would puncture his lung prior to his Week 2 matchup, missing the next six games (and losing the starting job to Justin Herbert). The following year, he would injure his hamstring in Week 2 against the Browns, missing the next six games (and losing his starting job to Davis Mills). Finally, last season, we saw Taylor take over for an injured Daniel Jones, only to suffer a rib injury himself in Week 8 against the Jets – an injury that would eventually force him on IR (he would return in Week 14).

It’s not only injury concerns that make the Taylor signing questionable.

Taylor has only scored more than 20 touchdowns twice in his 13-year career, with one of those seasons consisting of 20 passing touchdowns. His 2.8 passing touchdown percentage in 2023 as a starter would have been tied with Patriots QB Bailey Zappe for 31st in the league. With a career passing touchdown percentage of 3.8, it inspires little belief that Taylor could realistically lead the Jets to a playoff berth if thrust into a starting position.

Last season, we saw offensive coordinator Nathaniel Hackett’s inability to change the Jets’ offense once Rodgers went down. And outside of experience, is there anything Taylor offers to combat coaching deficiencies?

Sure, a younger quarterback may be less likely to overcome coaching issues. But there’s also the possibility of tapping unreached potential. That is something that Taylor does not provide at this point in his career. And considering that Rodgers is entering his age-40 season, the Jets need to gameplan for a future without him – and soon.

Drafting FSU quarterback Jordan Travis in the fifth round of the 2024 draft gives the Jets a nice project at the position. However, Travis is rehabbing an injury and won’t be ready this season. There were plenty of players younger than Taylor available in free agency with starting experience.

Players like Drew Lock, Jacoby Brissett, Jameis Winston, and Marcus Mariota were available and given similar contracts with other teams. If the Jets valued the backup quarterback position, targeting a player like Gardner Minshew, or trading for Sam Howell would have made sense given the structure of the team. Both Minshew and Howell could have also provided a bridge quarterback opportunity in the case of another Rodgers injury or underperformance. While it wouldn’t guarantee success, it would have given the Jets a multi-year option while they address the position in a Rodgers-less world.

This isn’t to dig at Taylor. In fact, last season showed that Taylor is still capable of playing at a high level for a short period of time. His 1.2 turnover-worthy play rate ranked first among all quarterbacks last season, while his 9.1 average depth of target was third. He also displayed a strong deep ball prowess, completing 40.7 percent of those throws at 15.7 YPA (8th). His 48.1 adjusted completion percentage on deep passes ranked ninth among his peers.

However, it’s not Taylor’s talent that is worth criticizing – it’s the signing itself given the structure of the team. It would have made more sense for the Jets to target a younger player with fewer injury concerns and similar starting experience. With that said, if Rodgers doesn’t miss time in 2024, it’s a moot point.

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